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Tutorial: Preparing to Create a Website

When you decide to create a website the preparation phase is an important one. Not only will good site planning make the building process much more intuitive, it will also increase the likelihood that your site will include all the essential pieces. This tutorial will step you through some important information about the Yola Sitebuilder and how to get the most out of it, as well as give you some ideas for content gathering and choosing the best style to fit your website's needs.

Here is a list of important tutorials to look at when preparing to create a website:

My site won't load

This tutorial explains specific situations which will cause your site not to load in the Sitebuilder, and how to avoid the actions that will cause this. The tutorial also covers how to properly add content to your pages so that your site loads correctly and you are able to edit it. Here is a link: My Site Won't Load.
 

 

Introduction to SEO

Once you finish creating your website you are going to want to show it to the world and have it come up in search engine results when people search on Google and other major search engines. If this is your end goal then you need to keep it in mind from the very beginning. Sites that do well with the search engine pay attention to something often referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This tutorial will explain common terms as well as give you an idea of how the search engines do their job. Here is a link: Introduction to SEO.
 

Planning your site with SEO in mind

Proper use of keywords when building your site is one way to influence search engines to rank you better. This tutorial will step you through various aspects of website planning including keywords and how to do keyword research, as well as creating a map of your site content and choosing the right domain name. Here is a link: Planning Your Site With SEO in Mind.

 
Yola's nine tips for preparing to create a website:

1. Visit our Get Satisfaction Community and start participating!

Get Satisfaction is our community forum where users of Yola come to ask questions and work with each other while they build their sites. You will find a large number of Yola customers all at different stages of the site building process including a group of Yola Champs who are experienced Yola customers and very dedicated to helping others. The Yola staff also participate by actively answering questions, giving tips and providing company updates. If you run into any questions or issues, this is a great place to reach out for speedy assistance. Get Satisfaction is an extremely useful tool for Yola customers. We hope to see you there!

 

2. Competitor research

Researching your competitors' websites will give you a lot of insight into what other web masters in your industry or topic area find to be important. This isn't about stealing content or copying someone else's ideas (which you should never do!), but will give you some starting points for your website. When you are looking at your competitor's websites ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I find to be useful on this site?
  2. What type of information is being provided?
  3. What information is not being provided that I think should be?
  4. What do I do better than my competitor?
  5. What can I do differently to my competitor, what will make my website unique?

You must consider your unique selling proposition. What is it that makes what you do stand out from the rest? How can you play to that on your website thus differentiating yourself from your competition?
 

3. "Websites I love" research

Are there certain websites that you like and visit often? It can be extremely helpful to look closely at sites that you really like (even if they are not in your website's topic area) to get some ideas for your website. Do you enjoy certain colors or navigation schemes? Has a certain website set up its homepage in a manner that is very appealing to you and easy to navigate? Again, it isn't about taking or stealing someone else's ideas, but about appreciating something about another website and possibly incorporating your own spin on the concept into your website.
 

4. Content

Content before design

Sometimes when creating a website it can be tempting to do your design first, as this is a fun part of the process. But, if you plan your content before choosing and tweaking your design, you will ensure your design evolves from your content, and that your design intensifies the information you are providing. Site planning will also help you make the the right decision concerning your site's navigation scheme.

Content is king

People come to the internet looking for information on everything from where they will eat next, to home buying tips, to what hairstyle best suits a face shape. You have an area of expertise and your website is where you can show this. You might not realize it yet, but your unique life experiences, interests and passions have given you something unique to offer the world. Tap into this and make it the basis of your website and you will be successful!

Defining your niche

One of the first things you need to do is narrow in on your niche. The more focused a website is, the more likely you are to provide the information your prospective site visitor is looking for. What is your area of expertise and what type of information can you provide to your site visitors that will give them the answers they are looking for, and keep them coming back?

When considering your niche, you need to drill down into your topic of interest. There are specific things that you are an expert in, and you will gravitate towards things you know and love. If you are a chef, what is your area of specialty? It's too broad to have a website about food, but if you are a chef who specializes in cooking with only fresh food that is in season, that is a niche. Another example would be a website about parenting; which is an extremely broad topic. But, a website that focuses on the details of parenting toddlers or how to care for a newborn is an effective niche website.

Finding your specific niche may take some time, but it will not be wasted time. There are many people out there searching for answers to specific questions and trying to solve specific problems, and you can provide them with the solutions!

Content planning tips

Brainstorming: Write down your main topic and all of the sub topics that fall into it. Ask yourself what type of information you would like to find on a website in your topic area.

Here is an example:

Main concept: Coffee

Sub topics: Coffee Facts, History of Coffee, Gourmet Coffee, Organic Coffee, Flavored Coffee, Fair Trade Coffee,

Other pages: About, Contact, Blog

Planning your site pages in this manner helps you in a variety of ways:

  • You can see in front of you the content you will need to write.
  • You will better notice content areas you may be missing.
  • You can plan for a proper navigation scheme depending on the amount of pages you have.


5. Navigation planning

Navigation is an extremely important piece of a website. Your site visitors need to be able to easily and intuitively navigate through the pages of your site. There are two common ways to arrange your main navigation, either vertically or horizontally.

Here are some things you should keep in mind when choosing a navigation scheme:

  • Do all of the pages you would like to have on the main navigation fit nicely?
  • Do you foresee more pages needing to be added later?

Some of the styles in the Yola Style Library only fit a certain number of pages. If you have a large number of pages that you want to have on the main navigation, you may want to look for a style with a vertical navigation scheme as these styles will support the largest number of pages. Keep in mind that if you have a large number of pages, they do not all need to go on the main navigation. Here is a link to a tutorial which will step you through the process of creating subpages: Creating Subpages.


Horizontal navigation scheme:

 

Vertical navigation scheme:

Alternatively, you may want to upgrade to Yola Silver or Yola Gold and take advantage of our Submenu feature. This is a great way to effectively set up your navigation scheme.  
 

 

6. The Yola Style gallery - putting it to good use!

The Yola Style Gallery is a great tool to use when planning your site and choosing a style that will best suite. To access it, click on the Style menu in your Sitebuilder. You can choose between Free and Premium Styles and, hovering over each style displays the customization options. 
 

7. Using the Yola File Manager

The File Manager will be important to you as you create your website. This is where you will store all of your images and other various files that you will be using on your website. It is a good idea to get familiar with the File Manager before you get started building.

Another good idea is to upload your images and files before you start building, that way they will be organized and ready to go when you are ready to put them on your pages. Here is a link to learn more: Using the File Manager.

 

8. Using the "Save Page As" function

Yola has an excellent feature that allows you to make a copy of a page if you want more than one page on your site to have similar elements. Navigate to the page you wish to duplicate. Then, go to Page > Page Properties and select Save Page As. A dialog box will open up and you can give the new page a name. Now, you will have a duplicate of the other page and you can make the necessary changes.

If you have content that repeats on every page of your site, create a template page that has this content and use "Save Page As" to carry the content across to new pages. This can save you a lot of time!

 

9. Create a test site in your account

Creating a test site is an excellent thing to do before you start building. Having a test site will allow you to try out different things such as various widgets, codes, styles, banners and images without possibly harming the content of elements of your main site.

When you take preparation time to create a website, you will find the process to be a great learning experience, intuitive, and fun!

Many thanks to our community for their help with this tutorial! Visit Hey Yola users, how do you prepare to build a site?